Is collagen all hype? Let's examine collagen, what it is, its potential benefits, and what to look for when purchasing collagen as not all are well-absorbed by your body.
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Collagen has been quite the “it” girl of the natural supplement world for a while now. Why? Because people don’t like getting old. More specifically, people don’t like looking old.
One of the reasons our skin starts to sag and wrinkle is due to a loss of collagen. Hence collagen supplements came on the scene, but it’s time to examine the collagen hype and potential benefits to see if it’s a worthwhile supplement.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is derived from a Greek word, meaning glue. That’s a good place to start to look at what collagen can do for you and your body.
Collagen is a structural protein and an important one at that. It’s responsible for up to 70% of the protein in your skin and is the most abundant protein in your body.
Amino acids make-up the protein in collagen, but the kicker is that it’s really hard for us to get these amino acids naturally in our diet. We really want them though since they help contribute to shiny hair, tough nails, stretchy bodies, and glowing, supple skin.
You’re now putting the pieces together on why your cracking joints and brittle nails recently started bothering you, right? Sorry to say that collagen loss is playing a role here. Enter potential collagen supplementation benefits.
To recap, collagen is the glue in your body, keeping joints, tissues, and skin looking and acting like younger, more vital versions of yourself. As you age you start losing this fabulous collagen supply. Are you already in on collagen supplementation?
In case you're still on the fence, let me tell you that collagen is also a key player in gut health. If you’re like me, you’ve had gut and digestive issues for years. Guess what can help with that? Yup, collagen. It’s those amino acids going to work for you. It lines your gut to help seal the GI tract to keep foreign invaders out. When the invaders are out, your gut remains sealed, and inflammation is kept at bay.
But wait there’s more. Collagen is also a good source of protein. If you can’t tolerate whey protein like me, you might want to try collagen protein. Throw it in your smoothie, coffee, or just some water to get a boost. It’s tasteless so it won’t alter the flavor of your beverage.
To get the maximum benefits from your collagen, ingest it instead of using it in skincare products. Collagen molecules can be too large for your skin to absorb. However, studies have shown that when you consume collagen, your digestive organs can break it down and put it to use. So don’t apply your collagen - drink it!
You definitely want to ensure proper collagen sourcing so that you’re getting the best quality, from responsibly raised, grass-fed animals. If the animal is eating poor quality feed, you will be too. See below for my favorite collagen supplements.
Vitamin C is also a key player in the collagen equation. If you’re going to start taking collagen, make sure that you also have adequate levels of Vitamin C in the body. Without proper C levels, your collagen won’t be put to good use, so supplement if you’re low. This is my go-to Vitamin C.
Types of Collagen
While there are at least 16 different types of collagen in the body, there are 3 predominant ones to look for – types 1, 2, and 3. You can read more about each here. Hydrolyzed collagen contains these 3 important types.
Vital Proteins has regular collagen peptides which is great for everyday use. I put that in my tea or warm lemon water. They also have beef gelatin, which is great for us gluten free, dairy-free peeps. The gelatin helps items like soup or baked goods to thicken for a creamier texture.
Bone broth is also an excellent source of collagen. You can make your own batch with leftover bones and some aromatics, or you can buy bone broth, but again, be sure it's high quality, well sourced, without fillers. Kettle & Fire makes a good bone broth.
Final Word on Collagen Use
A final word and precaution on collagen. Collagen isn’t a magic wand to wave over your body to make you look decades younger with no other lifestyle changes. Smoking, inactivity, and poor food consumption will all lead to early aging, creaky joints, and an inflamed gut. No amount of collagen will offset that.
But, if you keep moving, eat well, and maintain a positive mindset, collagen supplementation may just produce some wonderful benefits for your skin, joints, and body.